Behind the Box

How to Choose the Right Packaging for Your Product

17 Mar 2017

Products make the world go round, and one of the major things that can help make a fantastic product into a bonafide success, and really boost a brand, is the packaging: get it wrong and the effects could be detrimental. After all, first impressions are everything these days. But never fear, because we’re here to help with a few valuable tips on choosing the right product packaging for your divine creation.

Before we get into it, let us just say this: a sleek design and top notch branding is a key element to any piece of product packaging. Here are five key elements of product packaging that are commonly overlooked. So, please make sure you…

Make sure it travels well

Besides a killer design that says: do not ignore me, I was made for you, product packaging needs to be able to travel from A to B with minimal damage and just as importantly, with ease. If your product is bulky or fragile, you will need to focus on materials that are specifically designed for strength. If your product is going to be sitting on a retail shelf, proud as a peacock, then you will need to put more effort into the outward display; this is where a superior print finish (perhaps a UV treated high-gloss, liquid-based coating) will come in handy.

Here’s something else to mull over: according to Amelia Boothman, director at global branding agency 1HQ, “Typically, it costs far more to replace damaged goods than pay for adequate protective packaging from the outset. There will be a point when the cost of product damage equates to the cost of protective packaging – this is the ‘optimum’ packaging specification businesses should work to.”

If possible, packaging that stacks well, like a two-piece rigid box, that can be picked up with ease and placed in a cargo hold will certainly help. For something a little more heavy duty, packaging made from sturdy stuff like a corrugated board is worth looking at, as this particular material provides excellent support. Not only are these kinds of packaging easy to display, they will also survive a few knocks and bumps between being shipped and hitting the shelves. Which brings us onto our next point.

Don’t forget about the material

You wouldn’t want to live in a home made out of cheese (just think about the smell in the summer, oh the humanity); you wouldn’t want your beloved product to be housed in the wrong material either.

Just let that sink in. While the above statement does seem quite random, the point is: treat your product with the same respect as you would yourself. When picking the caliper (the weight or thickness) of your packaging material, you might want to consider what’s best for your product. Here’s a quick guide to help you out:

Paperboard (coated white chipboard for folding cartons trays and sleeves): this lightweight material yields excellent printing results and is best used for food, dairy, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, hardware items and retail products.

Corrugated (a board composed of paperboard with fluted medium paper laminated to it): this sturdy yet flexible stuff is ideal for produce, fragile or heavy items, subscription boxes, shipping cartons and E- Commerce packages.

Take the time to get a feel for the different materials available to you, find out works best and make it one of the foundations of your packaging decisions.

Know that size does matter

If you have a product that comes in four different sizes, you may well be able to design two different sized packages that will accommodate all four (rather than producing four separate packs) by being economical with the dimensions, and savvy with the design. This will not only save time and as a result, money, it will also ensure consistency throughout your products – and people like consistency.

Imagine you were browsing the supermarket shelves with a rumbling stomach and stumbled across bananas – not in a bunch, but one per package/1). Talk about a waste. You probably wouldn’t be compelled to buy one as they don’t look very appealing on their own, shrink wrapped to a slab of polystyrene. Needless to say, we doubt any bananas would consumed that day. Who knew that someone could get packaging fruit so wrong?

Another interesting insight on the subject of packaging size comes in the form of Euromonitor’s 2013 study on packaging preferences in India. Research found that the general cosmetic consuming public prefer purchasing big brand soaps, shampoos, facial moisturizers and soaps in smaller quantities, rather than bulkier family sized packages.

In fact, smaller sachets of up to 10 ml accounted for a whopping 98% of regular shampoo sales in 2013, with a demand for smaller sizes being driven by price consciousness, especially in rural and semi- built up areas.

In it goes without saying that you shouldn’t try and stuff a six foot ornament into a six inch wooden box, but the point is: size does matter; it’s also a case of knowing your audience. Which is a good to time ask you to…

Understand your audience

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember when choosing the right product packaging is to understand your target audience – after all, they are the people you want to invest in your creation.

It sounds obvious but when you’re the one in the driver’s seat it’s so easy to overlook. Say you’ve just created a tool to make it easier to fit a toilet seat and you happen to be obsessed with diplodocuses, you wouldn’t want to plaster them all over the front cover of your packaging. Okay, some plumbers might share your passion for the prehistoric leaf eaters, but the vast majority of them will think your product should have been stacked in the toy section.

Essentially, to appeal to your customers, you have to understand them and decipher whether they’re part of a niche or mainstream market. Before finalising your design and placing your order, do your homework. Carry out some market research, figure out your key demographic and cater to their needs, specially. That way, your product will call out to them and end up leaving the shelves faster than Clark Kent when Superman’s in town.

Think about ergonomics

In this case, ergonomics is a fancy term for the way in which people will open and interact with your box; this is an important part of the packaging design process.

Depending on the nature of your creation, your packaging will need to suit the size and shape of the product, as well as the needs of the consumer. A little novelty goes a long way in terms of design, but so does practicality.

In fact, it seems that when it comes to consumer packaging, ergonomics are so important, that back in 2008 online retail giant Amazon vowed to invest a colossal amount of time and money into developing frustration free packaging.

The launch yielded such positive results, that top toy brands such as Fisher-Price and Matchbox quickly jumped on the bandwagon and used the initiative to make their packaging accessible to their main fanbase – excitable children – and the results were well-received by both kids and parents alike.

It seems that if people have difficulties accessing their product, their frustrations may prevent them from coming back for more, so just to reiterate: ergonomics are vital.

For instance, if your niche lies in botanicals or cosmetics, a flexible folding carton may well be the answer. These basic and easy-to-fold boxes are economical and make the ideal home for a luxury face cream or eau de toilette.

Packlane's Classic Carton

Packlane’s Classic Carton

There are plenty of packaging options out there, so it’s certainly worth taking a good look at all of them before making a final decision.

With so many things to consider when it comes to packing your product, making a start can be daunting, but hopefully these tips have given you a solid starting point.

We would like to wish you the best of luck and if you would like some personal advice on packaging options, please do get in touch.